With the growing popularity of staycations in the UK, many of us look to more unusual ways to spend the holiday season. The idea of winding down by the seaside can be appealing and naturally one may wonder how to extend those relaxing times beyond the day trip.
If you’ve been thinking about buying or renting a beach hut, the thought of sleeping in it may have crossed your mind. After all, you are making a good investment for the convenience of being near the sea, so it is natural to wonder whether overnight stays are allowed.
So, are you allowed to sleep in a beach hut or is that illegal? The vast majority of the traditional beach huts in the UK are leased through local councils and as a general rule, it is not permissible to sleep in them as only daytime use is allowed. However, there are certain places where you can sleep in a beach hut. Those that allow overnight stays tend to be bigger super huts, chalets, or lodges, and have freehold tenure.
As most beach huts are leasehold and plots are rented through the respective council area, it’s a good idea to find out the terms and conditions from your local authority for exact details. Read further below for a handy list of beaches where overnight stays are permitted.
What is the difference between leasehold and freehold beach huts?
Similar to brick and mortar properties, even beach huts can be leasehold or freehold. With freehold properties, owners have a lot more freedom regarding what they can do. This option would be the ideal scenario for overnight stays, however, it is a rare occurrence and prices reflect it.
These can be obtained through local councils, which are often available for local residents only. Long waiting lists are not unusual, some people having to bide their time for years. Some beach hut plots can be available quicker depending on the location and how desirable a site is. For example, huts facing away or set back further from the sea could be quicker to get hold of and might be a good alternative to start with.
The actual huts can be owned privately with leasing the plot, or you may rent a hut from the council. When leasing a plot, you will pay an annual fee for ground rent, which can also include winter storage, moving, and maintenance costs. These vary by local authority, so do enquire about the terms and conditions (displayed on councils’ website). Also please note that local laws and rules will apply as regards what can and can’t be done with the beach hut.
The other type of legal ownership is freehold. This means that you own the building and land the beach hut is situated on outright. No need to pay rent or maintenance fees but you are wholly responsible for the upkeep of the building.
However, freehold beach huts are even harder to come by than getting on a council’s waiting list for a leasehold one. Owning residential or freehold beach huts can set you back a fair amount, the most desirable seaside huts having been sold for as much as a house. The most expensive sale recorded so far was in the summer of 2020 for £330,00 at Mudeford Sandbank in Dorset.
Nevertheless, these freehold huts can be a good investment, as prices are likely to hold their value and even increase over the years.
Where are freehold beach huts located in the UK?
Finding out where you can actually sleep in a beach hut is relatively straightforward. You could start by an online search or call your local council. If you are planning on purchasing a freehold beach hut, property portals often advertise these when they do come up for sale.
Some overnight beach hut locations in Britain
- Mudeford Sandbank
- Bognor Regis
- St Ives Bay
- Camber Sands
- Gwithian Beach
- Seasalter Beach
How to purchase beach huts
Find out first where freehold beach huts are located. Online property portals can be a good starting point, as well as scouring the local newspapers or visiting locations and asking owners if they know of anything.
Similarly to buying homes, you can go through the process with the help of estate agents or organise the purchase yourself. You don’t need solicitors, but it is advisable to ensure that everything is legally in order before obtaining the keys.
Other ways to experience beach hut sleepovers
If the idea of buying a freehold beach hut doesn’t appeal, there’s always the option of hiring a beach hut. Specialist websites will have details of these huts including booking information.
Cost of hiring
Like all things seasonal, beach-related, and location-dependent, the cost of hiring a beach hut can vary a lot. After a quick research, I found prices ranging from £80-£200 a day to weekly charges of £146-£1500.
What can you expect at a typical British beach hut?
The origins of beach huts (or bathing boxes) go back to the 1700s, an invention that offered privacy and convenient changing rooms by the sea. Traditionally they are very small, measuring just 6×6 feet. You find larger ones as well and the newer, purpose-built private huts are called super huts, beach chalets, or cabins, offering more comfort.
Today most people use them to store all the vital items required for a relaxing time at the seaside; swimwear, paddleboards, kites, foldaway chairs, towels and drink making facilities. Some owners view their beach huts as the extension of their homes and go to great lengths to decorate them reflecting their personality.
The traditional type beach huts themselves will almost certainly lack any modern conveniences. There’s no electricity or running water for example. You can however expect to find toilets and water points situated nearby, with outdoor showers to wash off sand and sea salt after a good swim.
There are strict rules about what you are allowed to have inside the hut, such as the type of gas allowed to boil water for hot drinks. It’s worth checking whether the installation of solar panels is permitted.
It’s also good to find out in advance how easily the beach huts can be accessed, especially the parking situation in the area. You don’t want to find yourself stressed out lugging your essential beach gear for miles.
Break-ins to beach huts unfortunately are not uncommon and it pays to be vigilant and take all the necessary precautions to ensure safety, securing huts to a good standard. A few companies offer specialist insurance as well.
So is it possible to sleep in a beach hut?
Although you are allowed and may legally sleep in beach huts at some UK beaches, most councils do not permit overnight stays. Freehold beach hut owners can mostly sleep in their huts, but there may still be some restrictions to be aware of. There are numerous online booking websites where beach huts can be hired for various lengths.